Do I really need renters insurance, and how much does it cost? Most policies will cost approximately $15 a month, but it covers broader scenarios than you may think. Here are some essentials to know when deciding whether to buy a policy:

What is it?  Renters insurance is a type of insurance that covers your personal property. If someone breaks into your rental and steals your belongings, your landlord typically is not responsible (unless you can prove the landlord was negligent by, say, not providing a lock for your doors or windows). Otherwise, you’ll have to pay to replace what was taken or damaged. This is where renters insurance steps in and saves the day by covering the cost of missing/damaged items. The insurance often covers damage to your belongings from major situations like fire, vandalism, and other disasters.

Renters insurance covers your belongings even when it isn't in your home!  Any valuables that are often kept in your car or that you bring with you, such as on vacation, are also covered by most policies.  Whether your bike is stolen from inside your apartment or while parked outside your favorite coffee shop, your insurance will pay for what your property is worth (actual cash value) or the cost to replace it (replacement-cost coverage) depending on the details of your policy.

It also covers damage to other people’s stuff!  Your renters insurance policy sticks with you when you (or, say, your kids) go to a friend’s house, shopping, or even if your kids decide to play around in the china department of a store-- if something gets damaged, that can be considered "property damage liability" and your renters insurance policy could pay for that (depending on your policy).  Renters insurance also protects you if someONE gets damaged! If a friend rolls an ankle because they stepped on your dog’s chew toy in your living room, you could be held liable for the medical costs. But, depending your policy, your renters insurance would shoulder that cost. Additionally, if your rental unit is unlivable for a time because of maintenance issues, the cost of a temporary hotel stay would likely be covered by renters insurance.  

An important note about property damage; however, is that renters insurance doesn’t typically cover damage done to your rental property by another person. So, if someone were to break your window, and that person doesn’t have renters insurance, you would responsible for paying to fix the damages. Bottom line: Renters insurance is awesome, but often comes with coverage limits, so make sure you read the fine print.  

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